hrf

Pakistan gets first lawmaker of African descent


The Sidis are strong supporters of PPP, which is now chaired by former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.  (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
The Sidis are strong supporters of PPP, which is now chaired by former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Tanzeela Qambrani will become Pakistan’s first ever lawmaker of African descent.

The 39-year-old was nominated by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to a women’s reserved seat in the regional parliament of southern Sindh province, reported BBC News.

Qambrani hopes to wash away the contempt associated with the Sidi community, the local name for the ethnic African population concentrated in the coastal regions of Makran and Sindh.

“As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt,” Qambrani, whose ancestors came from Tanzania, told the BBC.

The Sidis are strong supporters of PPP, which is now chaired by former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.

“Just as Columbus discovered America, Bilawal has discovered Sidis,” said Qambrani, whose great-grandparents came to Sindh from Tanzania.

Qambrani is a computer science postgraduate with three children and she hails from the coastal area of Badin. Her father is a lawyer and mother is a retired school teacher.

Discrimination

Sidis in Pakistan constantly face racial prejudice because of their physical appearance. and this is evident in one image shot by British photographer Luke Duggleby.

The picture shot in Karachi shows two young girls studying after school. Both are Sidis, but they look different from each other.

“To me, it shows the fragility of the Sidi community,” Duggleby told Quartz India. “Because of discrimination, many look to marry outside the Sidi community and dilute their African appearance. For some that is how they can avoid this discrimination, but for many this is seen as the very disappearance of the Sidi people themselves.”